Two Confederate Statues Officially Come Down in Memphis

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that the Memphis City Council unanimously approved the sale of two public parks - Health Science Park and its easement in Fourth Bluff Park - that contain statues of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

"We are governed by the rule of law here in Tennessee and these actions are a clear infringement of this principle and set a unsafe precedence for our state", said House Majority Leader Glen Casada and House Republican caucus chairman Ryan Williams.

Cities have tried to remove Confederate monuments after the racially motivated massacre of nine people at a black church in SC and a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. "The statues no longer represent who we are as a modern, diverse city with momentum".

The concern stems from a decision made by the Memphis, Tennessee City Council to remove statues in Memphis parks honoring Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

However, the decision to take down the statues sparked controversy - not just because of the usual debate over what these Confederate statues signify, but because Nathan Bedford Forest is actually buried underneath where his statue stood.

In a public statement, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said, "Though some of our city's past is painful, we are all in charge of our city's future".

"I was committed to remove the statues in a lawful way", Strickland said.

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Forrest was a slave trader, Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader who became influential in the city's growth after the Civil War. The city of Dallas voted to take down a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee from park grounds in a 13-1 vote in August. The sale allowed Memphis to avoid having to adhere to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act which prohibits removing, renaming, or relocating memorials that sit on public property.

Memphis citizens had been pushing to have the statues taken down before April 4, 2018-the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in the city.

She talked about conservative state governments assuming greater control over what happens in more liberal city governments, such as Decatur's. The organization was incorporated after the law's passage in October, Strickland said.

WMC Action News 5's Sasha Jones is working to learn why the parks were sold at a price much lower than their value, and how the city will cope with that monetary loss. That's what we saw in Memphis this week.

Sons of Confederate Veterans, a pro-monument group who had fought the city's efforts to remove the statues, called Wednesday's actions a "well-organized, behind the scenes plan by the city".

He did not comment on whether the Sons of Confederate Veterans would pursue legal action against the city. "Operations on those sites tonight are being conducted by a private entity and are compliant with state law".

He added that the monuments would be preserved but did not reveal where they would be kept.

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